James Lane Post, October 5, 2021
The founders of Navy Beach in Montauk have expended their services into the Caribbean, opening restaurants in both St. Thomas and St. Maarten. We caught up with co-owners Frank and Kristina Davis, and Franklin Ferguson and Leyla Marchetto who collectivly answered our questions about the locations and what’s to come.
Tell us a little about your background and what brought you to this point.
It was just after the 2007-2008 financial crises that the founding partners, Frank and Kristina Davis, Franklin Ferguson and Leyla Marchetto set out to secure a smart location for a yet to be defined concept for a new restaurant on the East End. We were all likeminded for establishing something unique and enduring but had a list of ideas to narrow. A serendipitous call from a Montauk friend about an opening on Fort Pond Bay, in what has become Navy Beach landed us the foundation to build from. A dozen years of nurturing and a fortunate following has gotten us to this point.
What inspired you to bring Navy Beach to St Maarten and St Thomas?
With Montauk being a distinct seasonal location to operate, we had been in a strategic search for locations in warm winter weather climates. A list of key needs and ingredients for a high probability of success were constantly being refined by our team.
We explored many opportunities but moved with focus to both honor and protect the hard built brand that our following loves and enjoys. A big inspiration was being able to offer our staff the opportunity for continuity of year-round employment and to permit the many staff that have stayed with us the opportunity to move up a corporate ladder as their expertise continues to mature. St. Thomas (in the U.S. Virgin Islands), and St. Maarten (in the Dutch Caribbean) are two distinct yachting destinations for the winter months where many of our Montauk customers flock to from Thanksgiving through Easter.
How did the partnership with Island Global Yachting come about?
Our relationship with Island Global Yachting progressed naturally when IGY owned and operated The Montauk Yacht Club where many of our yachting guests kept their vessels. In 2017, we inevitably entered into a co-branding arrangement for day yachting excursions that anchored and dined at Navy Beach. From our inception in 2010, Navy Beach has worked to attract and support the yachting community as our waterfront location on Fort Pond Bay was special with safe anchoring for all sized yachts and wonderful location to spend a day trip to Montauk. It was during our initial co-branding efforts that we worked and became familiar with each other’s corporate cultures and began to admire both brands. The possibilities of incorporating our “nautical hospitality” lifestyle brand within their pre-eminent globally renowned mega yacht marinas had clear potential. Also, our likeminded fundamental approach to work tirelessly to creating memorable experiences for our respective clients had us easily in step from the beginning. Too many of our wish list of ingredients for launching additional Navy Beach locations were present with IGY to not embrace. IGY’s mega yacht marinas around the world reside in many of the most beautiful waterfront locations and Navy Beach’s nautical hospitality brand is truly a synergistic fit.
Talk a little about the menu.
Anyone who has dined with us over the last 12 years in Montauk will arrive to a comfortable nautically chic environment with similar colors and design (shadow boxed vintage swimsuits, retro glamour pix, blue and white bistro chairs, signal flags) and also be able to enjoy our long-time favorites in the Caribbean. Our delicious and sought after Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Navy Burger as well as Yunnan Ribs and Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes will greet all that visit. Local fresh fish inspired ceviche and large plates like the Soy–Glazed Red Snapper with sushi rice/goma wakame/black sesame/red curry coconut and creative Caribbean inspired dishes will be part of the offering.
Are there any menu items that stand out to you?
As we do each season, we like to introduce several new preps to the menu. One of our favorites born in St. Thomas (during our initial pre-Covid launch in December 2019) is the Tuna Crudo with Papaya and Wakame. The Crispy Shrimp Tacos are also very popular among the yacht crew. We’re working on new ideas for both St. Thomas and St. Maarten at the moment, including the launch menu for our new sister concept, ISLA (more about that below.) Our signature family-style party menus also work well down in the islands as we have found that we attract a mix of larger groups of yacht crew, yacht charter guests, as well as families and friends renting villas and vacationing on the island.
What’s next for Navy Beach?
While continuing to navigate the Covid-19 pandemic we are remaining focused on establishing our Navy Beach projects in both St. Thomas and St. Maarten. We also have been planning for some time to introduce an exciting second concept and will launch that this Fall in St. Thomas with the opening of ISLA Cantina Mexicana at Yacht Haven Grande. This is our immediate next focus, but clearly our strategic partnership with Island Global Yachting will continue to allow exciting and meaningful opportunities in the future. Stay tuned!
If you’re looking to plan a trip to Navy Beach in St. Thomas check out Caribbean Concierge to help plan your trip — they’re awesome and can assist in booking travel, accommodations, activities, restaurant reservations, etc. Visit caribbeanconciergevi.com.
For travel in St. Maarten we recommend reaching out to St. Martin Sotheby’s International or IRE Vacations. Favorite hotels on the island include the amazing La Samanna (by Belmond) and The (brand new) Morgan Resort & Spa.